Jul 252014
 

Despite the fact that cursive handwriting is being taught less often in schools today (see Are pens becoming relics of the past?), and despite the fact that bookstores everywhere are struggling to stay in business, it strikes me that we use words—handwritten, hand- or machine-printed, hand-painted, screen-printed, block-printed, carved, incised, tattooed, and so on—in more non-publication ways than ever. We have a love affair with words, in other words. And it’s all about the drive to communicate in a world where the news of the moment becomes old news as soon as you can transmit another electronic message. Basically, that means this very next moment.

Are we compensating by finding more lasting—and less traditional—ways to impress words upon ourselves and others? Think about it.

We celebrate words of a “vintage” nature.

Vintage Classic Book

Huckleberry Finn book by Mark Twain, sold by Attic Dust Antiques

We embellish our bodies and clothing with words.

Miniature Book Bracelet by JanDa Jewelry

Miniature Book Bracelet by JanDa Jewelry

Personalized Dictionary Word Necklace by Rainnua Art Pendant Shop

Personalized Dictionary Word Necklace by Rainnua Art Pendant Shop

"Imagine" Temporary Set of 2 Tattoos by Happy Tattoos

“Imagine” Temporary Set of 2 Tattoos by Happy Tattoos

"I Do" Wedding Shoe Sticker by The Wall Sticker Company

“I Do” Wedding Shoe Sticker by The Wall Sticker Company

We decorate our homes with words.

"Give Us Our Daily Bread" Vintage Wooden Plate by Chili Chic

“Give Us Our Daily Bread” Vintage Wooden Plate by Chili Chic

"Speak Kindly" Wall Decal by Single Stone Studio Studios

“Speak Kindly” Wall Decal by Single Stone Studio Studios

Fused Glass Sparrow Ornament by Mountin Designs

Fused Glass Sparrow Ornament by Mountin Designs

We use words or word tools to inspire, support a cause or spark an emotion.

Freedom of Speech T-Shirt by Full Spectrum Apparel

Freedom of Speech T-Shirt by Full Spectrum Apparel

Wire Bird Sculpture by Wire Animals

Wire Bird Sculpture by Wire Animals

"Love" Polymer Clay Pears by Skye Art

“Love” Polymer Clay Pears by Skye Art

We play with words, invent new ones and find new ways to communicate.

Hangry and Hanxiety Word Pillow Covers by Geek and the Chic

Hangry and Hanxiety Word Pillow Covers by Geek and the Chic

Vintage Pink Typewriter Galaxy S4 Case by Sassy Cases

Vintage Pink Typewriter Galaxy S4 Case by Sassy Cases

7 Letter Word in ASL - Custom Sign by Sign Language Hands

7 Letter Word in ASL – Custom Sign by Sign Language Hands

We create art with words.

Folded Book Art by Luciana Frigerio

Folded Book Art by Luciana Frigerio

We use words to evoke remembrance.

Message in a Bottle - Glass Vial Necklace by Space Pearl

Message in a Bottle – Glass Vial Necklace by Space Pearl

Walk through your house sometime, and count the many different ways you are using words in your daily life, besides through printed or digital publications. You might be surprised.

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Jul 242014
 

You learn something new every day, and today was no exception for me. I watching a video from Sarah, a fellow Blogging Business Artisans team member, called Etsy for Absolute Beginners: Banner Making, which explains how to create an Etsy banner using the free features of PicMonkey, an online photo editing program. I wondered if I couldn’t do something similar with Corel Paint Shop Pro. I have used the program for years, but certainly don’t know everything about it. In particular, photo editing layers—which allow you to superimpose one image on top of another—have always been a mystery to me, and there was something about Sarah’s video that just made things click into place.

Layers, whether you’re working in Corel PaintShop Pro, Adobo Photoshop Elements, or Photoshop, are pretty much the same thing. You can think of them as adding components to a blank canvas, with each addition to your canvas being a layer. You can remove components by removing a layer, and also change the order of your layers.

I experimented first in PicMonkey by following Sarah’s instructions for importing a photo from my laptop. Any photo, to tell you the truth, will work because you won’t actually be using that image. Using PicMonkey’s design tools, you’ll resize your image to fit your banner, which for my WordPress template is 1200 pixels wide by 210 pixels tall. Once you enter your banner’s dimensions, you’ll stretch and compress your photo so that it really looks terrible. I randomly selected the collage photo below.

Stretched compressed photo

Don’t worry, as you will “paint” over the above image with white or some other solid color. I colored my photo white, just so I could start with a clean rectangle. Because you wouldn’t be able to see the white rectangle against the white background of this post, I added an outline, but your white rectangle won’t have this unless you add a frame as one of your PicMonkey effects.

White canvas with outline

Next, I added a texture effect called Burst. You can use any of PicMonkey’s preset textures, or you can import a texture (image file) from your computer. Any photo will do the trick; feel free to experiment.

Burst texture effect

I decided I wanted to add the name of my Web site. You can use the free typefaces within PicMonkey, but there’s an option for you to use your own fonts, too. I added “this creative journey” using the Honeyscript font, located on my laptop. I saved the image to my laptop, and used it as my first “layer” in Corel Paint Shop Pro.

Blue Basic Banner

I was now ready to use my own software, so I opened the above image, which I’ll call my Base Layer, in Corel Paint Shop Pro. You could do the same thing with your preferred photo editing software. Then, I selected photos I wanted to overlay to the left and right of “this creative journey.” How did I get this effect?

Blue Basic Banner With Photos 1

1. Within your photo editing program, open multiple windows for the Base Layer and all photos you want to overlay. Each of these photos represents a layer in your project.

2. Go to your first photo and resize it. In my case, I used a height of 190 pixels, slightly shorter than the 210 pixel height of my Base Layer, and selected proportionate resizing so that my program could calculate the width of my image automatically. I repeated this with all of the other images.

3. Next, I copied one image using a couple of keyboard shortcuts, CTRL + A to select the photo, and CTRL + C to copy the photo.

4. I opened the window for the Base Layer, and inserted it with another keyboard shortcut, CTRL + V. Obviously, the photo had to be moved to the right location, so I took care of that in the next step.

5. Move your photo where you’d like it to appear by selecting your program’s equivalent of the “pick” and “move” tools.

6. You’ll notice that my photos have a glowy effect around the outer edges. When the photo was selected, I applied this Layer Effect. All I had to do in my program was to right-click, select Properties, choose the Layer tab, and then choose an Effect. Likely your photo editing program will have some similar options.

7. Repeat steps 3 through 5 (or 6, if you want to apply a Layer Effect) for each photo.

That’s it! Save your image, and upload it to your blog, Web site or selling site. I don’t know if I’ll actually use the banner shown in this post, as it was a learning exercise. But one thing I did also learn is that everything I did in PicMonkey can also be accomplished within my photo editing program. PicMonkey just simplifies the starting process for you.

If you know of other shortcuts or handy online programs that make banner design easier, feel free to share in the comments below.

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Jul 232014
 

It’s so easy to procrastinate when it comes to new designs or products. Recently a buyer asked me if I sell handmade address books—not the first time I’ve been asked this question. This time, however, the question was followed up with an order, and I finally designed the book.

IMG_4310

I often use recycled chipboard for my books from old three-ring binders you’d normally throw out, but I forgot how thick that chipboard is. This affects the type of punched holes I use for the spiral binding. My Zutter Bind-it-All punches rectangular holes, while my We R Memory Keepers The Cinch™ punches round holes. If you’ve ever wondered which punch-and-bind machine is better, it really depends on what you’re binding and how much flexibility you need. The Bind-it-All definitely handles thicker materials better than The Cinch™, and it’s more portable, too. However, if you need to punch more than six holes, it’s fussier to use. The Cinch™, on the other hand, is extremely flexible. You can vary the spacing of your holes with a simple flip of a lever. Because the chipboard I used for my address book was so thick, I had to use the Bind-it-All.

IMG_4316

Whenever you design a book with printed pages, it seems to be easier to size the pages first, and then calculate the cover size needed. I had to allow for a little more cover space on one side of my pages because the book has alphabetical tabbed sections.

IMG_4313

It was fun designing the address book for my buyer, who is gifting a friend with it. Although you can purchase an address book in any office supply store, there’s something special about a handmade one destined to become a keepsake. And that, of course, is the general idea!

Address Book Collage

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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